Inside Colombia’s ELN: How the world’s longest insurgency ditched its fight for socialism

In the early morning heat of the Chocó jungle in western Colombia, around 80 rebels gather for inspection in their makeshift camp.

There is a strict routine for those within the ranks of the National Liberation Army, the ELN. The mornings involve classes in current affairs and Marxist ideology, while the afternoons are devoted to military exercise.  

“This is my chance to do something about it,” says 22-year-old Samuel, referring to the struggle in communities on the margins of Colombia, where there are no schools, no hospitals and no roads. He cleans his weapon with pride.

But as one of the world’s longest running insurgencies enters its 56th year, conviction like Samuel’s is waning fast. This…

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